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August 31, 2010

Commissioner rules excessed teacher’s failure to request or indicate any assumption of the teacher’s retention on the preferred list a fatal omission

Commissioner rules excessed teacher’s failure to request or indicate any assumption of the teacher’s retention on the preferred list a fatal omission
Appeal of Staci Beauchamp and the City School District of the City of Glen Cove and Melanie Tuthill Odone, Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision #16,123

Staci Beauchamp appealed the decision of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Glen Cove to appoint Melanie Tuthill Odone as a reading teacher. Beauchamp, a tenured reading teaching, accepted a .4 part time reading teacher position when she was advised that her full time position was being abolished effective September 1, 2006.

Although Beauchamp initially had accepted the .4 part time appointment on June 13, 2006, she submitted her resignation from the position on June 23, 2006. The Commissioner’s decision indicates that the Board subsequently “accepted” the resignation.*

In early 2009, Beauchamp learned of a reading teacher vacancy in the district. In response to her inquiry concerning the availability of the position, she was told by the Assistant to the Superintendent for Personnel that as she had resigned from her [part time] position, “she did not qualify for reappointment.”

Tuthill Odone was subsequently hired to fill the reading teacher position and ultimately the issue was appealed to the Commissioner.

Beauchamp argued that she had been “fraudulently and/or falsely induced to resign by the board’s Executive Director of Human Resources” who had told her that “a resignation was a condition precedent to working in another school district and remaining on the preferred eligibility list in Glen Cove.”

The district, on the other had, contended that Beauchamp relinquished all rights to a teaching position in the district when she submitted her unconditional resignation and “that at no time did any agent or employee of the board make any false statement to [Beauchamp] in order to induce her to resign her teaching position.”

The Commissioner rejected Beauchamp’s appeal commenting that “it is clear that a teacher who severs his or her service with a district, through retirement or resignation, no longer has recall rights pursuant to Education Law §§2510 and 3013” [citations omitted].

Further, said the Commissioner, “[A]bsent a showing of fraud, duress, coercion, or other affirmative misconduct on the part of school officials which renders a resignation involuntary, a resignation cannot be withdrawn once it has been accepted by school authorities,” citing Schmitt v. Hicksville UFSD No. 17, 200 AD2d 661.

The Commissioner said that Beauchamp did not prove that her resignation was involuntary and although the Executive Director’s alleged false statement may have provided motive for her resignation, “it cannot be said that her will was overcome and that she was not capable of exercising free choice.” Thus, the Commissioner ruled, Beauchamp’s allegations of duress and coercion must be dismissed.

The Commissioner also rejected Beauchamp’s claim that her resignation was a nullity because it was entered into under a mutual mistake of fact, i.e. that “she had to resign to work elsewhere and be placed on the school district’s preferred eligibility list.”

Significantly, the Commissioner said the Beauchamp failed to demonstrate that there was a mutual mistake of fact and that the school district justifiably assumed that she, “by submitting a letter of resignation, wished to sever her ties with the district” as her letter of resignation did not indicate that “she wished to remain on the preferred eligibility list, or indicate any expectation that she would so remain.”

*
Except where required by law, acceptance of a resignation is not required for it to take effect; all that is required is that the resignation be delivered to the appointing authority before it is withdrawn or rescinded by the officer or employee. An example of requiring the "acceptance" of the resignation for it to take effect: §2111 of the Education Law, "Resignation of district officers." §2111 states that a school district officer "may resign to a district meeting." §2111 then further provides that officer shall also be deemed to have resigned if he or she filed a written resignation with the district superintendent of his of her district "and such superintendent endorses thereon his approval and files the same with the district clerk" [emphasis supplied]. See, also, §2110.3 of the Education Law.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume50/d16123.htm

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